Importance of Healthy Kidneys

Most people know that the kidneys perform the function of a filter, removing toxic waste products from the body and returning the cleaned blood back into the body. But what most people do not realize is that kidneys go beyond that; they are just as important as the lungs or the heart, because they carry out several crucial functions.

What Do the Kidneys Do?

The first and most important function of the kidneys is to regulate the salt and fluid content of the body. Sodium and potassium from food must be maintained at a certain level, otherwise they cause harm to the body. Minerals like phosphate and calcium, which are important in bone formation, also need to be regulated and the kidneys maintain the levels in a healthy range.

The Kidneys, By-Products, Vitamins and Hormones

Urea is a waste product produced by the breakdown of protein, while creatinine is by-product of creatine, used by the muscles, which if not removed by the kidneys, can become toxic. The kidneys also release a variety of hormones that carry out different functions.

One type of hormone secreted by the kidneys stimulates the production of red blood cells, while another aids the regulation of blood pressure and calcium metabolism. Kidneys also produce the functional form of vitamin D necessary for healthy bones.

As we age, a little of the kidney function is lost naturally, but if kidney function declines due to disease, it is cause for concern. Different types of kidney problems can cause a reduction in kidney function. Most of these problems affect both kidneys simultaneously.

Kidney Disease :: Timing is Fundamental for Effective Treatment

Nephrons are the tiny filters (about a billion of them in each kidney) which may be damaged thus reducing their ability to filter blood. While this can happen quickly such as in case of poisoning or injury, it typically gets worse, gradually over many years.

There are usually very few or no symptoms to kidney disease, until roughly three quarters of the kidney functions are lost. Early diagnosis is essential in averting the risk of kidney damage or failure.

Chronic kidney disease is when an individual has had lowered kidney function for three or more months, or when they exhibit some abnormal markers like excretion of protein in urine. There are a number of factors that can bring this on. Some kidney disorders are inherited, while others can be brought on by ailments like diabetes and high blood pressure.

Twenty to thirty per-cent of people with diabetes usually end up developing the kidney disease called diabetic nephropathy, a hugely serious condition that can augment other diabetic problems, like nerve and eye damage while increasing the risk of heart disease.

Glomerulonephritis is the inflammation of the miniature filters known as glomeruli. It can be brought on suddenly, like after suffering from strep throat. While the individual may get better, glomerulonephritis can develop slowly over many years, which can cause loss of kidney function.

Polycystic kidney is an inherited disease in which cysts form in the kidney and get larger over time. They can cause serious damage and may even lead to kidney failure. Some common over the counter pain killers can also cause serious kidney damage if taken excessively over long periods of time.

Ensuring that the kidneys are in tip-top working order, only involves routine laboratory tests. A urine test can detect kidney damage while a blood test can measure how well the kidneys are functioning. In healthy kidneys, no albumin (protein) is detected in the urine while the blood test measures glomerular filtration rate (GFR, a measure of the organ’s filtering ability).

A GFR of less than 60 indicates chronic kidney disease while below 15 indicates kidney failure. While chronic kidney disease cannot be cured, if however, it is detected early, further problems can be drastically minimized in most cases.

A GFR of less than 15 will leave the patient feeling tired and weak, they may also experience nausea, vomiting and itchiness. Such patients may require a kidney transplant or have to undergo dialysis.

Why is it Important to Keep Your Kidneys Healthy?

Kidney failure can lead to death. The only treatment for kidney failure is to have a transplant, but this is not always possible. Finding a matching donor can be a challenge, not to mention the long waiting lists, lifetime of immunosuppressant drugs, and the expense.

While dialysis can remove the harmful wastes and extra water from the body it requires for the patient to go to a hospital to be attached to a dialysis machine a number of times a week for several hours. This can prove to be exhausting for both the patient and carers.

Keeping the kidneys healthy only requires a little effort coupled with healthy lifestyle choices. Some of these include maintaining a healthy weight, checking blood pressure regularly, limiting alcohol and salt intake, use more fish and chicken while taking red meats in moderation and not smoking.

A healthy diet should include foods which are high in antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, and phytochemicals. Great sources of these are red peppers, cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, berries, garlic and oily fish, such as salmon.

There are also vitamins and other supplements which can help the kidneys to function normally, which include vitamin B1 (thiamine). Benfotiamine is the best way to get vitamin B1, because it is lipid-soluble, not water soluble like other forms.

All these steps minimize the stress on the kidneys and keep them functioning at full potential longer. We hope, by highlighting some of the diseases above, that you are able to now understand why having healthy kidneys is so important.

The Importance of a Healthy Circulatory (Blood) System

The the circulatory system (also known as the blood system) is made up of the heart, blood and blood vessels (arteries and veins). It is responsible for taking nutrients, vital hormones, oxygen and water to the cells in the body and removing toxic wastes like carbon dioxide.

It is an astounding super highway that connects with the billions of cells in the human body. According to Chinese medicine, the circulatory system is the leader of all other systems.

What is Blood Made From?

The blood is actually a mixture of a number of components, each having specific function. It contains red blood cells that transport oxygen, white blood cells to fight disease, platelets for clotting and the liquid portion known as plasma, in which everything floats.

A single drop of blood houses five million red blood cells, 250 thousand platelets and ten thousand white blood cells. All these components will travel through blood vessels of varying sizes, the combined length of which can drape around the equator two times!

How Does the Heart Work?

The heart is a vital organ, that pumps blood around your body, every second of every day, for the duration of your life. It is estimated that it beats three billion times during the average lifetime. The (average) heart pumps around two thousand gallons of blood a day, ‘beating’ about one hundred thousand times.

It never stops, well, until you know when! The heart is pumping when you’re asleep, albeit a bit slower, but it is still enduring wear and tear. It’s easy to understand then, why it is vital to keep your heart healthy and functioning at optimal level.

Circulatory Diseases Are the Leading Cause of Death

Due to the critical nature of the system and its vastness, diseases related to the circulatory system are among the leading causes of death around the world.


Arteriosclerosis is one of the system’s most commonly occurring diseases. This happens when fats deposited in the arteries thicken the walls of the blood vessels, which leads to their stiffness. This not only compromises the elasticity of the walls but also narrows the area through which blood can flow, eventually resulting in a heart attack or stroke.

Any artery of the body can be affected by arteriosclerosis inclusive of legs, arms, brain, heart, pelvis or kidneys. Depending on which arteries are affected, different diseases may develop. Arteriosclerosis is caused by a diet rich in saturated (bad) fats and calcium.

High Blood Pressure

Hypertension, typically known as high blood pressure is another common heart related condition. It occurs when the heart has to work harder due to the narrowing or hardening of the arteries resulting from the natural ageing process, inherited conditions or arteriosclerosis.

The blood pumped through arteries travels under greater pressure than the safe range, thus increasing the danger of heart and kidney diseases, aneurysms or stroke.

What is an Aneurysm?

An aneurysm is a bulging in the wall of the blood vessel. It starts as a tiny spot in the wall of the blood vessel, but with the force of the pumped blood, it expands out of shape. While they can develop at any point of the circulatory system, they are most common along the main artery coming out of the heart (called the aorta).

Aneurysms can cause death within minutes if they rupture.

Common causes include:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Arteriosclerosis
  • or, natural weakness present at birth.

Since these diseases affect the quality of life and shorten life spans, it is important to keep the cardiovascular system functioning at its best. The adverse effects of the most common cardio-vascular diseases can actually be controlled and minimized with some simple lifestyle changes.

Some important steps that keep the circulatory system healthy include reducing stress, staying within a healthy weight range, and exercising regularly. Controlling diet also helps to maintain a healthy blood system. These include limited consumption of alcohol, no smoking, minimizing fatty, fried foods, and using more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Endothelial Dysfunction and How Benfotiamine Can Help

What is the Endothelium?

The fine, delicate membrane lining the inside of blood vessels and the heart is known as the endothelium. Cells of the endothelium discharge substances which do a lot of work.

They help regulate contraction and relaxation of blood vessels. They release enzymes that control blood clotting, aide the body’s immune system, maintain the body’s fluid volume, electrolytes and other substances passing from the blood to various tissues of the body.

What is Endothelial dysfunction?

Endothelial dysfunction is when any one or more of these jobs is either not being carried out, or is carried out to a limited degree. It is also considered to be a major factor in atherosclerosis (hardening and thickening of the blood vessels with a loss of elasticity) which can lead to lead to heart attack or stroke.

Additionally, endothelial dysfunction is believed to be a forerunner in damage linked with complications associated with diabetes, especially peripheral vascular disease (where blood flow to the legs and arms is hampered). Endothelial dysfunction is brought on due to a number of conditions like hypertension, lack of exercise, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and smoking.

Could Benfotiamine Help Relieve Symptoms of Endothelial Dysfunction?

Benfotiamine has been studied in conjunction with healthy endothelial function and peripheral blood flow, by German scientists. Advanced Glycation End Products (AGE’s) are created by cooking food at high temperatures and they are a significant factor in endothelial dysfunction.

Participants in the German study were given AGE loaded meals, prior to and following a three day benfotiamine treatment. Oxidative stress and AGE’s, indicators of endothelial function were measured periodically. It was found that the negative changes like diminished blood flow to arms and legs, higher levels of AGE’s, elevated oxidative stress, and endothelial dysfunction brought on by the AGE rich meals were prevented when benfotiamine was taken with the same meal.

According to an Italian study, benfotiamine can benefit endothelial function even when blood glucose levels are elevated. Also, the same study showed that benfotiamine not only aids the mature endothelial cells but progenitor cells, which develop into mature endothelial cells.

These progenitor cells are crucial to maintenance and repair of healthy endothelial cells. Even though hyperglycaemia and high sugar levels in the blood impede natural development of progenitor cells, the damage can be reverted by using benfotiamine.

Beware, if You Are a Smoker!

Smoking promotes endothelial dysfunction by aggravating oxidative stress and inflammation. In a study using cross-over and investigator-blinded techniques twenty volunteers were used to investigate the effect of benfotiamine on vascular function. Ten patients asked to smoke only while the other ten were asked to smoke and take a supplement of benfotiamine. Various markers were measured and it was found that benfotiamine provided protective vascular properties.

Benfotiamine and Diabetes

The glucose extracted from the food we consume is carried by the bloodstream to all organs of the body. It is the source of energy that allows the body to carry out all its functions. However, for the cells in the body to be able to use the glucose, the pancreas has to supply the hormone insulin.

How Does Diabetes Affect the Body?

In an individual with diabetes, the pancreas either does not produce any insulin, produces insufficient amounts of it, or the individual can’t effectively use the insulin produced.

When this happens, not only are the cells of the body deprived of the energy needed to do their work, but the level of glucose in the blood also rises leading to problems that effect nearly all parts of the body.

What’s The Difference Between Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes?

benfotiamine and diabetesThere are two basic types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. In Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce any insulin and individuals have to take insulin in order to survive. The majority of people who have diabetes, have Type 2.

In this type of diabetes the pancreas initially starts producing insulin according to the body’s needs, but the cells are unable to make use of it, so the pancreas produces more of it in an effort to control the blood glucose levels.

In time, the over production of insulin burns out the insulin producing cells in the pancreas.

In the beginning, this type of diabetes can be controlled by diet and exercise but eventually the individual may require medications to control the amount of glucose in their blood. Long term, uncontrolled high levels of glucose in the blood can damage the body’s organs.

When the body can’t use the glucose for energy, different hormones are used by the body to turn fat into energy and this produces toxic chemicals like acids and ketone bodies. These substances produce a condition called diabetic ketoacidosis.

This complication of diabetes causes extreme thirst, fatigue and undue urination.

Without treatment it can lead to unconsciousness, or even death! High levels of glucose in the blood can make it difficult to totally empty the stomach (gastroparesis) and the delay further raises blood glucose levels. Diabetes is the major cause of gastroparesis, the symptoms of which include bloating, vomiting and nausea.

Diabetes and Heart Disease

According to studies carried out at the Joslin Diabetes Center, people who have diabetes risk a two to three times greater chance of being inflicted with heart disease than people who do not have diabetes. As matter of fact, diabetes is now considered to be the single leading risk factor of heart disease.

Diabetes Can Lead to Restricted Blood Flow, Even Leg Amputations

Elevated levels of glucose can also lead to the creation of fatty deposits in the walls of blood vessels. Eventually this can limit the flow of blood to the hands and feet. Diabetics are particularly in danger of developing foot problems due to narrowing of the arteries. Diabetic neuropathy reduces the feelings of sensation in extremities which can prevent a diabetic from realizing that they have an injury or infection in the feet. Restricted blood flow along with nerve damage increases the chances of foot or leg amputations.

Diabetes Can Damage Eyesight

Prolonged diabetes can cause the blood vessels in the back of the eye to balloon out. In the more serious form of the disease, called proliferative retinopathy these damaged blood vessels are closed off, and new, weaker ones form in their place. These new ones can leak blood, blocking vision in addition to making scar tissue grow which deforms the retina leading to loss of vision.

Heightened levels of glucose in blood damages blood vessels in the kidneys, and make them leak protein into urine. Over time some of these vessels collapse, putting greater stress on the ones remaining. With increased load, these also get damaged which may lead to kidney failure.

How Can Benfotiamine Help With Diabetes?

According to the latest research, the above complications can be controlled and even averted with the use of Benfotiamine. Benfotiamine, is a man-made form of vitamin B1 or thiamine. It is better suited to the body than typical vitamin B1 supplements because it is fat soluble.

Water soluble vitamins like B1 are absorbed into the body without the presence of fat, but they can’t be stored, so any surplus is not stored but removed from the body during urination.

This means that that the body can become deficient of vitamin B1 very easily if it is not replenished with the nutrient on a regular basis. Thiamine deficiency can be the basis of a number of ailments.

On the other hand, the modified form of vitamin B1, Benfotiamine, enters the bloodstream from the digestive tract with greater ease, and is able to infiltrate the cells of the body more effectively and the excess amount is stored in the body’s fat for release as required over time.

In 2003 Dr. Michael Brownlee of Albert Einstein College of Medicine published results of research showing how benfotiamine obstructed the biochemical paths through which high levels of sugar causes severe diabetic impediments. This led to an increased interest in the supplement because according to 2013 estimates more than 382 million people are diabetics.

Diabetes medicines target the blood and concentrate on keeping blood sugar levels in the normal range. Benfotiamine however, works on lowering the intracellular glucose levels, and amends the way body responds to the toxic substances produced as a result of excess sugar in the body. It incites the production of the enzyme transketolase, which converts what could be toxic products from the breakdown of glucose to harmless compounds.

Benfotiamine also blocks the main pathways that produce toxic substances like advanced glycation end products (AGEs). These products are implicated in a number of disorders associated with diabetes, like diabetic neuropathy (nerve damage), retinopathy (vision issues), cardiovascular disease and nephropathy (kidney problems).

Furthermore, accumulation of AGE’s is also a risk for cardiac issues for people without diabetics. It is believed that AGE’s work through different mechanisms to enhance vascular damage, inflammation and scar tissue formation, this issues are only accelerated in diabetics.

Using Benfotiamine to Improve Your Eyesight

Benfotiamine or S-benzoylthiamine O-monophosphate, is a form of vitamin B1 (thiamine). It has been used for many years as a prescription drug in Europe for treating disorders linked to low levels of thiamine, and for averting complications arising out of extended hyperglyceria.

Since it (benfotiamine) is better absorbed by the body than thiamine, because it is ‘fat-based’, it more easily enhances the levels of thiamine in the body.

Diabetics are at risk of having the whole body threatened by complications of diabetes, and the eyes especially vulnerable. Diabetes damages the small blood vessels of the light-sensitive tissue in the retina of the eye leading to retinopathy or even blindness.

Benfotiamine Can Protect Your Eyes

In studies, scientists found that benfotiamine was useful in preventing retinopathy in diabetics. In a thirty-six week long study, subjects were given benfotiamine and it was found that the damage-causing, high levels of AGE’s (advanced glycation endproducts) in the retina were normalized. This led to the conclusion that benfotiamine may delay or slow down the progression of the condition (1)(2).

The usefulness of benfotiamine relating to retinopathy led scientists to investigate it further for other eye related problems. Uveitis is a condition which causes inflammation and affects every 4 people in a 1000. It is an autoimmune disease but can also be caused by bacterial infection.

While the condition can normally be resolved in a number of weeks, it can become a persistent issue developing into conditions like glaucoma or cataracts. The current treatment for uveitis has several negative side-effects associated with it, but benfotiamine has no side effects.

Hence, University of Texas researchers used benfotiamine to prevent uveitis in rats. Since the rat and human variety of uveitis are very close, it offered a comparison. It was found that benfotiamine prevented the condition in rats. While this research is limited to rats, it is very promising for humans (3).

References:1 – Hammes HP, Du X, Edelstein D, et al. Benfotiamine blocks three major pathways of hyperglycemic damage and prevents experimental diabetic retinopathy. Nat Med. 2003 Mar; 9(3):294-9.
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3 – Yadav UCS, Subramanyan S, Ramana KV. Prevention of endotoxin-induced uveitis in rats by benfotiamine, a lipophilic analogue of vitamin B1. Investigative Opthalmology & Visual Science. 2009. 50(5): 2276-2282.